"My Father’s Suitcase"

I have rarely been as moved by a piece of writing as I was by Orhan Pamuk’s Nobel lecture:

As you know, the question we writers are asked most often, the favourite question, is; why do you write? I write because I have an innate need to write! I write because I can’t do normal work like other people. I write because I want to read books like the ones I write. I write because I am angry at all of you, angry at everyone. I write because I love sitting in a room all day writing. I write because I can only partake in real life by changing it. I write because I want others, all of us, the whole world, to know what sort of life we lived, and continue to live, in Istanbul, in Turkey. I write because I love the smell of paper, pen, and ink. I write because I believe in literature, in the art of the novel, more than I believe in anything else. I write because it is a habit, a passion. I write because I am afraid of being forgotten. I write because I like the glory and interest that writing brings. I write to be alone. Perhaps I write because I hope to understand why I am so very, very angry at all of you, so very, very angry at everyone. I write because I like to be read. I write because once I have begun a novel, an essay, a page, I want to finish it. I write because everyone expects me to write. I write because I have a childish belief in the immortality of libraries, and in the way my books sit on the shelf. I write because it is exciting to turn all of life’s beauties and riches into words. I write not to tell a story, but to compose a story. I write because I wish to escape from the foreboding that there is a place I must go but – just as in a dream – I can’t quite get there. I write because I have never managed to be happy. I write to be happy.

7 comments

  1. if it doesn’t come bursting out of youin spite of everything,don’t do it.unless it comes unasked out of yourheart and your mind and your mouthand your gut,don’t do it.if you have to sit for hoursstaring at your computer screenor hunched over yourtypewritersearching for words,don’t do it.if you’re doing it for money orfame,don’t do it.if you’re doing it because you wantwomen in your bed,don’t do it.if you have to sit there andrewrite it again and again,don’t do it.if it’s hard work just thinking about doing it,don’t do it.if you’re trying to write like somebodyelse,forget about it.if you have to wait for it to roar out ofyou,then wait patiently.if it never does roar out of you,do something else.if you first have to read it to your wifeor your girlfriend or your boyfriendor your parents or to anybody at all,you’re not ready.don’t be like so many writers,don’t be like so many thousands ofpeople who call themselves writers,don’t be dull and boring andpretentious, don’t be consumed with self-love.the libraries of the world haveyawned themselves tosleepover your kind.don’t add to that.don’t do it.unless it comes out ofyour soul like a rocket,unless being still woulddrive you to madness orsuicide or murder,don’t do it.unless the sun inside you isburning your gut,don’t do it.when it is truly time,and if you have been chosen,it will do it byitself and it will keep on doing ituntil you die or it dies in you.there is no other way.and there never was. – Charles Bukowski

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